Through the blessing of fertility medicine, donor sperm, and IVF, I have my three beautiful children. All three conceived from the same egg collection with the same sample (straw) of donor sperm. They are essentially triplets, just born years apart. My daughters were born to my previous relationship, my youngest born after we separated. And my son, born exclusively to me as a single mum by choice. Is my IVF journey now over?
There is not a day that goes by that I do not thank the universe for the blessing of these three beautiful souls who challenge me, love me, and have made me a better person.
I had a total of 14 eggs initially collected, 10 of them fertilized in the lab. Through my cycles, I’ve used 9 and I have one remaining. I have until 2020 to use this final embryo or discard it.
When my ex and I started the IVF journey we were counseled at the clinic about how unused embryos are discarded. At the time, I thought nothing of this. However, 4 pregnancies later and three beautiful children, all whom I’ve seen as embryos on a television screen prior to transfer, the thought of discarding this last embryo weighs on my mind and soul.
I believe that every woman has the right to choose what happens to her body, including whether or not she wants to be pregnant. It is not my right to tell anyone they can’t end an unwanted pregnancy. However, personally, I can’t help but think of this last embryo as having the potential for life and bringing myself to sign the forms to discard it is impossible.
I am not alone in this ethical and moral quandary. There are hundreds of thousands of embryos in storage worldwide with families continuing to pay fees because for them the decision to discard is challenging. I have friends who have finished having their children who have eight embryos remaining and can’t bring themselves to discard them. While on the other hand, I have other friends who have done IVF for genetic reasons for whom discarding embryos has a whole other meaning.
I always said that I wanted three children, even when I was pregnant with my eldest. Three beautiful healthy children are now in my life. Yet one embryo remains. The question that runs through my mind sometimes is; should I have a transfer and leave it up to the universe and fate to see if it would be successful?
I struggled with severe pubic symphysis dysfunction (PSD) in my last pregnancy, to the point that during the last month I was almost unable to walk. Another pregnancy (without proper strength training, weight loss, and physiotherapy leading up to it) would no doubt leave me almost unable to care for my older children. There is the financial cost to consider. A fourth child would extend the number of years I would have to manage tantrums, nappies, breastfeeding and sleep deprivation. But are these reasons enough to discard an embryo?
Today I threw out some remaining IVF stimulation drugs from my last cycle which were still in my fridge. I can’t seem to bring myself to throw out my injection pen. It’s been through all my cycles (including my intrauterine injection (IUI) cycles, a memento of my journey.
Every woman and every family are different in their journey towards being parents. I’ve talked my thoughts out with friends and family many a time and still haven’t come to a certain conclusion. I am 95% sure that I am finished having children. Yet, a girlfriend told me that until I’m 100%, she know’s that I’m not finished. I am certain that I would never go through another egg collection process. The question remains, not what I would do with a high number of embryos, but what do I do with just one remaining?
So What Decision Have I Made?
Some days I do lean towards having a transfer and letting nature take its course. Others, when I’m struggling with pelvic pain and flashbacks of my last pregnancy, I’m certain that I couldn’t go again. This is one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. Even leaving my ex, was more clear-cut! The ethics of medical and fertility sciences is a big topic and for me at least, not black and white.
Until I am 100% certain, or until I’m forced to make a decision in 2020, I will keep paying my embryo storage fee and mull over my thoughts frequently. No-one else can make this decision for me. The blessing and challenge of single parenthood is that the decision-making process stops with me.
For today, I put it in the back of my mind and throw out my drugs, but keep my pen. We’ll see what happens in the future. At least in just under 3 years, I’ll have it worked out!
Have you been in this situation? Are you currently storing embryos? I’d love to hear your thoughts and perspective on the whole thing so comment below, or get in contact with me.